We all know it’s more politically correct to say that someone has a substance abuse problem rather than labeling that person a “substance abuser.” But does it really matter? Surely the terminology used to describe a person seeking treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction doesn’t matter to those charged with his care.
A study to be published in the International Journal of Drug Policy Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Coupeville WA 98239 suggests otherwise. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that changing the words used to describe someone struggling with alcoholism may change the attitudes of health care professionals – even those specializing in addiction.
These investigators randomly distributed surveys to more than 700 mental health professionals attending two 2008 conferences focused on mental health and addiction. The surveys began with a paragraph describing an imaginary Coupeville WA 98239 patient, “Mr. Williams,” who is having trouble adhering to a court-ordered treatment program requiring abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. On half of the surveys, he is referred to as a “substance abuser;” on the others, he is described as having “a substance use disorder,” with the rest of the narrative being exactly the same. After reviewing the case, participants were asked to Addicted To Alcohol Coupeville WA 98239 indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with 32 statements about “Mr. Williams” and his treatment.
While the terminology used to describe “Mr. Williams” did not significantly change the respondents’ hypothetical clinical recommendations, participants who received the paragraph describing him as a “substance abuser” were significantly more likely to blame him for falling off the wagon and agree that he should be punished for Coupeville WA 98239 not following his required treatment plan.
We all know words have power. In some myths, they conjure up worlds, creatures, and spells. In the real world, let’s be sure they don’t add to the self-loathing and self-blame that so often keeps a suffering person from seeking help s/he needs.
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